What the Constitution does provide, not yet articulated in the draft Covenant, is a final mechanism ”“ along with a provincial tribunal to deal with disputes over the interpretation and application of the Constitution and future provincial canons ”“ by which to establish a decision regarding membership “removal”. It does not, of course, say anything about the circumstances under which such a final vote for removal would be taken, or about the procedures leading up to such a vote, precisely the knotted issue being debated with respect to the Covenant. Presumably the yet-to-be-formulated canons of the Province would speak to this issue, but as yet there is no indication of how to sort out this challenge. For the moment, then, the proposed province is leaving this procedure undefined, although its purpose, once defined, can go no further than the Covenant’s current proposal for the Communion as a whole, as I have just indicated. Indeed, one wonders if there is a good deal of faith being placed on the stability of incoming commitments held by the proposed Province’s new members. But there is a parallel to this with the Covenant’s purpose to lay out its own commitments up front with sufficient (though realistic) concreteness as to sift the actual willingness of churches to embrace its common life.
In summary, the shape of the proposed province’s Constitution demonstrates some fundamental convergences, deliberate or not, with the direction being taken by the draft Communion Covenant. This fact is important. For given the explicit support offered to the proposed province by leaders who chose not to attend the Lambeth Conference, we might conclude that the Covenant’s direction is indeed coherent with their own desires. The Constitution, that has been formulated freely and with every permission to state a desired set of commitments without impediment, has turned out in key respects to be very close to the Covenant’s own current thrust for Communion relationships. Where it demonstrates confusions, as it does, they are generally ones inherent in the process of seeking common accountabilities across lines where individual churches still clearly wish to guard their own autonomy. The Covenant Design Group will want to take this seriously into account as we proceed further and continue to learn from the responses of the Communion at large. As part of this work, the proposed Constitution represents a very significant response of its own.
Read it all.